Flipping Math On Its Head
This year I decided to turn my math instruction upside down by “flipping” my 5th grade class and it is by far the best thing I have ever done for students. Flipping refers to the relatively new practice of delivering instruction outside of class time through the use of videos and using class time for guided groups and practice. I first heard about this practice about a year ago and was cautiously intrigued. I say cautiously because I didn’t want to jump on some educational bandwagon just for the sake of jumping. I wanted to make sure that this approach would benefit my students. I researched and read. I lurked on blogs written by teachers who were already flipping. I followed the twitter hashtags: #flipclass and #flippedclass. I talked to friends of mine who had children and asked them what they would think if their child was in a class that was flipped. I hemmed, I hawed, and I decided to go for it because the benefits far outweighed the risks.
You might be wondering…what benefits? The most obvious benefit is that children are never practicing incorrectly. If you send a child home with ten problems and they don’t do them correctly, not only have they not learned how to do them the correct way, they have learned it the wrong way. As a teacher you then have to spend time clearing up misconceptions that should have never happened. When a child goes home and watches a video that is between 7-13 minutes and then comes to school and gets to practice with the teacher’s support it is a win-win for everyone involved. Parents also have the benefit of hearing how concepts are explained.
Once I made my decision I had a lot of other choices. Should I use other people’s videos or make my own? It turns out that I felt pretty strongly about this. It was imperative to me that the students hear my explanations in my own voice. So, making my own videos was the only way to go. I then had to investigate the different options out there for making videos. I knew that it had to be simple or it would be really hard to follow through. I decided that I didn’t personally want to appear in the videos, because I wanted to be able to make them in my pajamas, or with messy hair, or whenever the mood struck. At some point during my blog lurking someone mentioned using their iPad and a free app called Educreations. Educreations is a “personal recordable whiteboard.” I was amazed at how easy it was to use. My only complaint when recording is that there is no option to erase and re-record. You either start from scratch if you make a mistake or feel comfortable enough with yourself to just correct your mistake. I opted for the latter. All of my videos are one-take videos. My biggest challenge with making my videos is wrestling with my children for time on the iPad.
Math is such an enjoyable time in my class now. We are able to jump right into our guided groups each day. I love watching the students make the connections from the video that they watched the previous night. As a result, we are able to spend more time in higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom because the groundwork has already been laid. All of my students have computer access, but if they ever experience technical difficulties they know to come in and watch the video on a classroom computer first thing in the morning.
I was initially worried about how parents would perceive the flipped classroom model. I explained the process in my introduction letter and answered questions at curriculum night. All of the parents have been incredibly supportive. I’ve had positive parent feedback that I gathered using Survey Monkey such as:
- “She seems more confident with her math skills going into the next day.”
- “My daughter enjoys doing her “math homework”. Watching a video is quick, easy & non-intimidating.”
- “I think it has been beneficial as there aren’t as many distractions at home and the students can get the information into their heads to think about.”
- “My child actually is liking Math. He is excited to watch the videos as he likes working on the computer, he can watch the concept a few times and then when he goes to Math he is much more confident in himself and what he knows.”
- “Giving my student a chance to be introduced to material before class in a way that she learns from very well is great. She feels more prepared and looks forward to class knowing she has idea of what is going on.”
I knew I had made the right decision the other day when I overheard this conversation between two students who historically have struggled in math. I really think it says it all.
Child 1: “I made a 91 on the test, and I didn’t even study!”
Child 2: “Me either. I made a 94. All I did was watch the videos.”
Child 1: “Yeah. Me too.”
Flipping my math class has been a great experience so far. I did indeed jump on the bandwagon, and I have no intention of jumping off.